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  News> Press Releases> 2003 Archives
Press Releases
Airgas Third Quarter EPS Increases 35% to 23 Cents

Airgas Third Quarter EPS Increases 35% to 23 Cents

RADNOR, PA – January 29, 2003 -- Airgas, Inc., (NYSE: ARG) today reported earnings for its third quarter ended December 31, 2002. Net earnings for the quarter were $16.7 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, compared to $11.8 million, or $.17 per diluted share, in the same period a year ago.

The reported net earnings per diluted share for the nine months ended December 31, 2002 were $0.69 versus a net loss of $0.28 for the prior year period, which included the cumulative effect of a change in accounting principle related to the accounting for goodwill.

Excluding the change in accounting and certain restructuring and divestiture charges (see note (d) to the attached financial statements), net earnings per diluted share for the nine months ended December 31, 2002, were $0.72 compared to the prior year’s results of $0.57, on a pro forma basis. Free cash flow per diluted share for the nine-month period was $0.99 versus $0.82 in the prior year, driving debt reduction of $69 million. Year-to-date capital spending was $52 million versus $41 million last year. Fiscal 2003 capital spending includes $8 million for the construction of the liquid carbon dioxide and dry ice manufacturing plant in Hopewell, VA.

“Airgas delivered solid third quarter results reflecting outstanding execution in a weak economic environment,” said Airgas Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Peter McCausland. “Our strategic initiatives focused on market share growth and operating cost management contributed to the performance. We also paid down $30 million of debt in the quarter, which reflects the company’s tremendous free cash flow.”
McCausland continued, “We expect our operating momentum to continue through our fourth quarter, bolstering performance in soft market conditions. Therefore, we estimate our fourth quarter earnings per diluted share to be in the range of $0.24 to $0.26. The outlook for fiscal 2004 remains cloudy, as some positive economic indicators are still shadowed by a very weak industrial economy. However, we believe that, barring further deterioration of the U.S. economy, our acquisition synergies and strategic initiatives will enable earnings per share growth of at least 10%.”

While third quarter sales increased 11% to $435 million, total same-store sales declined 1% compared to the same quarter a year ago, reflecting continued weakness in manufacturing and other industrial customer segments. Same-store sales in the Distribution segment were down 1%, reflecting growth of 2% for gases and rent and a 5% decline in hardgoods. Same-store sales for the Gas Operations segment increased by 1%.
Free cash flow is defined as after-tax cash flow (net earnings, excluding certain gains and charges, plus depreciation, amortization and deferred income taxes), minus capital spending, plus/minus the change in working capital (adjusted for the impact of certain gains and charges), excluding the impact of the trade receivables securitization.

The Company will conduct an earnings teleconference on Thursday, January 30, 2003, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Access the teleconference by calling (800) 967-7135. Slides to be presented during the Company’s teleconference and information about how to access a live and on-demand webcast of the teleconference are available in the ‘Investor Info’ section on the Company’s Internet site www.airgas.com. The telephone replay will be accessible for one week starting January 30th at approximately 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time by calling (888) 203-1112 and entering passcode 480670.

About Airgas, Inc.

Airgas, Inc. is the largest U.S. distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gases, welding, safety and related products. Its integrated network of nearly 800 locations includes branches, retail stores, gas fill plants, specialty gas labs, production facilities and distribution centers. Airgas also distributes its products and services through eBusiness, catalog and telesales channels. Its national scale and strong local presence offer a competitive edge to its diversified customer base. For more information, please visit www.airgas.com.

Forward-Looking Statements
This press release may contain statements that are forward-looking, as that term is defined by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 or by the Securities and Exchange Commission in its rules, regulations and releases. These statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding: continued operating momentum bolstering performance in soft market conditions; earnings per share for the fourth quarter and following fiscal year; acquisition synergies and strategic initiatives enabling earnings per share growth. Airgas intends that such forward-looking statements be subject to the safe harbors created thereby. All forward-looking statements are based on current expectations regarding important risk factors and should not be regarded as a representation by the Company or any other person that the results expressed therein will be achieved. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement include the success of the Company’s integration of the acquired Air Products packaged gas business; the success of the Company’s strategic initiatives in improving operational efficiency and growing sales and market share; an economic downturn; increased industry competition; adverse changes in customer buying patterns; significant fluctuations in interest rates; adverse changes in general economic conditions; political and economic uncertainties associated with current world events; and other factors described in the Company’s reports, including Form 10-K dated March 31, 2002 and Form 10-Q reports dated June 30, 2002 and September 30, 2002, filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Consolidated statements of earnings and consolidated condensed balance sheets are attached in the complete PDF. Click here to view.

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For more information on Airgas, please visit www.airgas.com.
Contact Information

Airgas, Inc.
259 N. Radnor-Chester Road
Suite 100
Radnor, PA 19087
tel: (610) 687-5253
fax: (610) 687-1052

Melissa Nigro
Phone: (610) 902-6206

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